Reducing the impact of commuting

Traffic Magazine Summer2017

The amount of total US greenhouse gas emissions that came from transportation in 2014. That’s about 1,786 million metric tons—roughly equivalent to the emissions from the entire country of Russia. Transportation (including commuting) is the country's second biggest source of carbon emissions, after the electricity sector.

How Do Americans Get to Work?

76.5% Private Car
5.2% Public Transportation
4.4% Work From Home
2.8% Walking
1.3% Other
0.6% Biking

It’s one of the most stressful parts of the workday. It’s notoriously bad for our cholesterol, blood pressure, and general well-being. And the average American spends 52 minutes a day doing it.

Beyond the strain that commuting to work often puts on our personal lives, it also pumps tons of carbon dioxide—literally—into the atmosphere every year. But there are quite a few ways to lighten commuting's toll.

Commuting by car has declined in the last decade, but it’s still the dominant mode of transportation for more than 85% of US commuters. Some research shows that in major metropolitan areas with heavy rush hour traffic, automobile emissions are actually still rising.

Greening your commute isn’t as hard as you might think—and in many cases, it’s good for your wallet and your health as well as the atmosphere. Here are some of the best ways to do so:

Greening Your Commute

Click the various types of green commuting to learn more about their potential positive environmental affects:

  • Public Transportation
  • Bike or Walk
  • Carpool
  • Drive Efficiently
  • Go Electric or Hybrid

One fully occupied bus can replace 57 single-occupant cars; one fully occupied train, up to 1,500. It's also often cheaper than driving, and you can use the commute time to work or read.

Apart from the food you eat, there's no fuel cost for traveling on good old fashioned legs. Plus, regular exercise has a wide range of physical and mental health benefits.

Carpooling just once a week can shrink your carbon footprint by 20%. It also saves money on gas and parking, and gives carpool passengers time to work, take care of personal tasks, relax, or socialize.

Obeying speed limits, accelerating carefully, and avoiding sudden stops and starts can improve your miles per gallon by up to 30%. Such efficiency minimizes your car's emissions—and your gas expenses.

Electric and hybrid cars have significantly lower carbon emissions and higher fuel economy than gas-powered cars—and there are increasingly flexible charging and fueling options for them.

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